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Report - RAF Yatesbury and RAF Compton Bassett, Wiltshire - September 2014

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by Bertie Bollockbrains, Sep 17, 2014.

  1. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    My first report on here, so please be nice to me. :) (nervous smile)

    I thought I would report on RAF Yatesbury as it doesn't seem to have been mentioned on this website since 2007, so I will give an update:

    In 1916, the Royal Flying Corps developed Yatesbury Field to train pilots. There were two camps either side of the minor road from the A4 to the village itself. The West camp comprised the Officers and Men’s quarters with the usual facilities and had three large hangars. The East camp was adjacent to the (now) A4 and again had hangars and workshops. The airfield opened in November 1916 with No. 55 Reserve Squadron arriving from Filton, equipped with the Avro 504A and the Scout D.



    Although the War ended in November 1918, training continued into 1919, then Squadrons were sent to Yatesbury to be disbanded. The Station finally closed in early 1920. The land was returned to the original owners and reverted to farmland and this remained the case until 1936.



    Alarmed by the rise of Hitler and German militarism it was decided to train more pilots and an existing scheme was expanded. These were the Elementary and Reserve Flying Schools, where anyone could learn the basic flying skill. The Bristol Aeroplane Company (BAC) had been operating a School at Filton in Bristol since 1923 and was asked to set up another. So in 1935, they purchased part of the former Western Airfield and built the Flying School, which opened in early 1936. Training was carried out with Tiger Moth aircraft. This continued until the outbreak of war in September 1939, when pilot training was transferred away to other Stations to allow the field to be used for training airborne wireless operators.



    In 1938 the RAF realised it would need a large number of radio operators so built No. 2 Electrical and Wireless School, (later renamed No. 2 Radio School), the camp with the wooden huts we all knew so well. The theory of wireless and Morse code were taught on the ground and Dominie and Proctor aircraft were used for the aerial training. Over 50,000 men successfully passed out from 1939 to 1945 when the war ended. In 1942 a heavily guarded compound was built at the Eastern end of the camp to teach the new top-secret radar. This was originally known as No. 9 RDF School but was quickly changed to No. 9 Radio School, presumably to confuse the Germans. Over 19,000 men and women were trained there.



    At the end of the war training largely ceased, (it was used for square bashing for awhile), but with the start of the Cold War the camp got busy again, mainly training radar operators, mechanics and fitters. Large numbers of personnel passed through because of the high proportion of National Servicemen in the RAF. With the end of National Service in 1961 demand reduced, so in 1965 the camp finally closed. Over 70,000 personnel were successfully trained during this period.


    The buildings, site and surrounding area were featured in the video to the 1988 No.1 hit song "Doctorin' the Tardis" by The Timelords. Proposals were submitted in 2002 to convert the air base into residential flats with development starting in 2007. However, due to the current economic climate work has stopped on the conversion until the economy has improved.


    I can confirm, having visited this month, that there seems to be no signs of construction and the site is far from the proposed residential development. In fact, they don't seem to have started at all - just a bit of modern scaffolding on one the WW1 hangars.

    Anyways onto the photos:


    [​IMG] Grade II listed hangar

    [​IMG] and inside

    [​IMG] not the first thing I expected to see on an airfield

    [​IMG] guess what's inside this building...

    [​IMG] ... a squash court filled with rubbish

    [​IMG] The Watch Office / Flying Control...

    [​IMG] ...and how it used to look

    [​IMG]
    Random violin case in one of the rooms (it's empty by the way)



    Just down the road is RAF Compton Basset. First opened as an RAF station in 1940 and was used for radar training, it had no airfield. After WW2 it became a trade training camp for certain ground Signals trades. Many thousands of newly recruited RAF personnel, most having just completed their 8 weeks basic training, were taught their RAF trade skills at RAF Compton Bassett, so as to become competent Wireless Operators, Teleprinter Operators, Telegraphists or Telephonists before being posted to work at RAF operational stations and airfields elsewhere in the United Kingdom or abroad. The site is now mostly a recycling centre serving the town of Calne.

    Only the main gate and what I assume to be the NAAFI building remain. Whilst the NAAFI building is very do-able and would present no challenge to many users of this forum, I chickened out when I saw the "danger asbestos" signs. I will leave this to anyone who has the appropriate protective equipment.

    Anyways here's a then and now shot:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for looking
     
    #1 Bertie Bollockbrains, Sep 17, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014

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  2. Ordnance

    Ordnance Moderator
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    I stayed in an active Sergeants Mess last year which had 'Warning Asbestos' stickers all over the place, and so long as panels were sealed there was no danger! Its when roofs & panels are disturbed as in vandalised buildings it becomes a problem

    Any buildings built or refurbished before the year 2000 may contain asbestos. As long as the asbestos-containing material (ACM) is in good condition, and is not being or going to be disturbed or damaged, there is negligible risk. But if it is disturbed or damaged, it can become a danger to health, because people may breathe in any asbestos fibres released into the air.

    Its a simple matter of 'Be informed & Be Aware' in all abandoned building not just those with signs!

    http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg223.pdf

    Because of this a lot of older buildings may well have been surveyed, and in particular former MoD Military bases will have marked locations with a basic sticker such as this

    [​IMG]

    Some warning Signs can be quite alarming!
     
    #2 Ordnance, Sep 17, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2014
  3. The Kwan

    The Kwan funksoul Brother
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    Cheers for posting this Kev, any chance of removing the extra image tags [​IMG]
     
  4. canute

    canute 货车司机和国王
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    Looks good :thumb
     
  5. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Thanks, will have another and more detailed look once all the brambles, triffids and flesh-eating vegetation has died down a bit ;)

    More reports from other sites coming soon
     
  6. cardiffrail

    cardiffrail 28DL Full Member
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    Strangely enough I was thinking about that place earlier this morning (and I have been out of the loop for ages)
    Not surprised that the development never happened - it was probably stopped by the credit crunch and never re-started. well, good for us lol.

    Kevin, your'e right about the vegetation, September must be the worst month to do explores for that particular problem. Best is February / March
     
  7. Fonky

    Fonky 28DL Member
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    Alarmed by the rise of Hitler and German militarism it was decided to train more pilots and an existing scheme was expanded. These were the Elementary and Reserve Flying Schools, where anyone could learn the basic flying skill. The Bristol Aeroplane Company (BAC) had been operating a School at Filton in Bristol since 1923 and was asked to set up another. So in 1935, they purchased part of the former Western Airfield and built the Flying School, which opened in early 1936. Training was carried out with Tiger Moth aircraft. This continued until the outbreak of war in September 1939, when pilot training was transferred away to other Stations to allow the field to be used for training airborne wireless operators.
     
  8. Nick John

    Nick John 28DL Full Member
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    Hi
    I went there today, 12/05/2016. Spoke to someone who works there, RBS pulled the plug on the money front, hence no change to the site, quite a lot of work done on the ceilings in the last few years, Main hanger cost £800k to repair, when I work out how to add photo's I'll add what it looks like now
     
    Oxygen Thief likes this.
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